Keith Greiman is an artist, musician, lover of cats, tough enough to brave the Kensington Quickie Mart at any time of night, and a hell of a nice guy. I first found Keith’s work wheat pasted all over Fishtown. After tracking down who was behind these pasted posters, I had the honor of a coffee and a chat with the man himself.
Where did you start? What were your creative beginnings?
My mom was a diligent mother that compiled boxes of all my stuff I did. I made tons of Indiana Jones comics in kindergarten. I still have all of them to prove it. I started formal training in the sixth grade at the Painters Nest, which is a little art camp down the street from our house, and then Tyler. I have had tons of support from my family.
Where are you from? How long have you been living and working in Philly?
Bucks County. I didn’t travel very far. I’ve been coming down since I was young, taking the train in for shows. And during college I started wheat pasting and trying to get into shows. Then I moved here when I was 23.
What is your creative process? When you start a painting do you know what it’s going to look like at the end? Or does it develop as you paint?
When I first started painting I definitely had a very clear idea about what I was going to do before I started a piece. Then I spent years after sort of doodling doing more stream of consciousness stuff like that. But now I’m getting back into having a very concise idea about everything. Which works better for me. So I wasted about seven years to learn to go back to the way I started. But that’s how you develop. You just have to chip away at it.
There are a lot of monsters and wild animals and disasters and violence. Who are these creatures?
I don’t know? The guys with guns are from watching tons of westerns. After watching the Man With No Name trilogy for the 90th time, you end up drawing that guy. As far as the monsters? I don’t know?
How about the hairy guy?
Oh ya, the hair guy. Well I’m a hairy guy. A Sasquatch man. I draw cats a lot. I’m super into cats. It’s kind of a weird thing.
There are some intense things happening, but in the end it all seems so happy. Is that your intention?
Oh ya that’s the trick. You use bright colors and goofy characters and even if you depict disasters and murder but at the same time bad stuff is going on and it just seems happy.
Are you ok that people walk away with that or do you wish people would think about it more?
Well nobody’s going to know what it’s about anyways. Even if it was about something it doesn’t even matter. Sometimes it is, sometimes it’s not. It’s more about what it ends up looking like.
Keith, I know this is a lame sauce question but I have to ask it because I don’t know the answer. How would you categorize your art?
Well, when my aunts ask me what I’m doing I just tell them “I do illustration work”. Kind of like what’s in kids’ books, well a creepy kids book.
So, I found you through seeing the posters you hang around town. Do you know the bands? How did you get into that?
Well they are mostly for my band. There is only so many times you can ask your friends to make them for you.
Ya, from your posters, I was a little worried you were going to be a tough punk rocker.
No way I’m a total pussy. I shower all the time. That ‘s all I do.
I saw your music video! It’s pretty creepy. (Keith sings for the band Prowler.)
Ya we worked with some buddies of ours. It was wildly creepy. We had nothing to do with the story. These guys wrote it and did it all. We are trying to do another one working with them ’cause those kids are so funny. They work with a lot of local bands. They are called Severin.
How long have you been in your band?
It’s mostly kids I went to middle school with. One kid’s house was 200 yards from mine. So our whole stupid lives.
Keith, what do you have on your plate right now?
Yep! September show at Part Time Studios! I still have to settle on a show title. My buddy, Buddy Graham, I work with is like Winston Churchill, everything he says is unbelievable. He said something the other night that almost brought a tear to my eye. I might ask him if I can use that.